Research in Music Education I


Lecture:  Types of Research in Music Education

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Research Types

Information below is a basic outline of research types. 

For more detailed information, see Exploring Research in Music Education & Music Therapy by Kenneth H. Phillips


Historical Research
 Examination of past events to add to the knowledge or understanding of those events.  This should not be confused with gathering historical information and reporting on facts already known.


Philosophical Research
 The study of assumptions within the field in order to discover new concepts to guide future thinking.


Quantitative Research

Research that involves collecting numeric data.

  • Non-experimental

    Descriptive: describes "what is" at a certain point in time

    Correlational:  establishes a relationship between factors


  • Experimental

    True experimental: seeks to establish a cause and effect relationship using the scientific method (experimental and control groups)

    Quasi-experimental:  results when true randomization is not possible

    Causal-Comparative:  study in which the data is collected after an event

Note:  in social science research, causation requires the satisfaction of 3 conditions:

1.  that the cause always covaries with the effect (covariance means changing together)

2.  that the cause always precedes the effect in time

3.  that all alternative explanations for the effect can be ruled out





Qualitative Research

Research which does not use the scientific method.  The researcher interacts and becomes part of the investigation.  Types of qualitative research include: 

  • Narrative Research

    Research concerned with stories; research participants put data into their own words.

  • Phenomenological Research

    Study of what people experience and the meaning of those experiences.

  • Ethnographic Research

    The study of human cultures.

  • Grounded theory

    Research methodology whereby theory is generated from data.  This approach moves from specific to general.

  • Case study

    A detailed study of a particular person or group for the purpose of identifying behavioral models.

  • Action Research

    See below


Mixed Methods Research
 Uses both qualitative and quantitative methods


Action Research
 This is a type of qualitative research, but is listed separately here because of its practical application to music education.  This is research that can be done in or about the classroom.  This research type consists of 1) plan, 2) action, 3) observation, 4) reflection.




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